Cycling tightens rules on trans athletes
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has imposed further requirements for a transgender cyclists after announcing new requirements for athletes transitioning from male to female.
Under the previous criteria, trans cyclists were required to have a specific cap on their testosterone levels for a period of 12 months prior to being permitted to compete but under measures which take effect from July 1, that maximum allowable level of testosterone has been halved, and from a 24-month duration.
The policy change comes after a review conducted in the wake of the case of British cyclist Emily Bridges, who is one of the most high-profile trans athletes within the sport.
Bridges, 21, began hormone replacement therapy last year but was barred from taking part in an event in April amid objections from a host of other cyclists and despite meeting all of the requirements which she was notified of in advance of the race in Derby in England.
If Bridges had been permitted to race she would have been in direct competition with multiple time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny, which would have led to an interesting scenario to see if Bridges - who had previously set a junior men's record and who had won a British Universities’ championship event just a month before - could defeat the female Olympian.
“The latest scientific publications clearly demonstrate that the return of markers of endurance capacity to ‘female level’ occurs within six to eight months under low blood testosterone, while the awaited adaptations in muscle mass and muscle strength/power take much longer (two years minimum according to a recent study)," the UCI said in their statement which disclosed the new standards required of trans riders.
“Given the important role played by muscle strength and power in cycling performance, the UCI has decided to increase the transition period on low testosterone from 12 to 24 months.”
Bridges, though, has insisted that she doesn't have an unfair competitive advantage against a field of naturally-born female cyclists.
Despite this, the amended rules mean that she will not be allowed to race until 2023.
Speaking about the growing debate of trans athletes in sport, Bridges declared that most people still fundamentally misinterpret the debate.
“I understand how you’d come to this conclusion because a lot of people still view trans women as men with male anatomies and physiologies,” she told DIVA magazine, as noted by The Guardian.
“But hormone replacement therapy has such a massive effect. The aerobic performance difference is gone after about four months.
“There are studies going on for trans women in sport. I’m doing one and the performance drop-off that I’ve seen is massive. I don’t have any advantage over my competitors and I’ve got data to back that up.”